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Rosado v. Gonzalez

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

August 10, 2016

Mark Rosado, Plaintiff-Appellant
v.
Billy Gonzalez, Christian E. Ramirez, Robert A. Kero, and City of Chicago, Defendants-Appellees.

          Argued May 24, 2016

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 1:15-cv-03733 - Rebecca R. Pallmeyer, Judge.

          Before WOOD, Chief Judge, and Easterbrook and Kanne, Circuit Judges.

          Kanne, Circuit Judge.

         On September 7, 2012, two Chicago Police Department ("CPD") officers, Defendants Billy Gonzalez and Christian Ramirez, pulled over a car driven by Plaintiff Mark Rosado for failing to use a turn signal. After stopping the car, the officers "claimed to have seen" a badge and handcuffs, as well as a handgun in plain view "between the brake lever and center console." The officers arrested Rosado for unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon and for violating the armed habitual criminal statute. Defendant Officer Robert Kero approved the officers' report as establishing probable cause. Rosado was bound over for trial on September 8, 2012, after a probable cause hearing.

         Rosado spent the next year and a half in jail fighting the criminal charges. In February 2014, Rosado received a copy of the dash cam video taken the evening he was arrested, which, contrary to the officers' accounts, showed that Rosado had used his turn signal, and it was operable. The state court, relying on the video, found that the officers could not have seen the traffic infraction. Accordingly, it granted Rosado's motion to quash his arrest and suppress evidence. In light of the grant of the motion, the state dismissed the case nolle prosequi on April 14, 2014.

         Rosado filed this § 1983 lawsuit against Defendants on April 28, 2015, alleging false arrest, conspiracy to violate constitutional rights, failure to intervene, violation of due process, and a state-law respondeat superior claim.[1]

         Defendants filed a motion to dismiss Rosado's false-arrest claim as barred by the two-year statute of limitations. The district court granted the motion to dismiss because Rosado's claim accrued when he was bound over for trial on September 8, 2012, and he did not file his complaint until April 28, 2015 -outside the two-year statute of limitations. Because his claims of conspiracy and failure to intervene arose from the underlying false-arrest claim, those were also dismissed. The district court dismissed Rosado's due-process and respondeat-superior claims on the merits.

         I. Analysis

         On appeal, Rosado only challenges the district court's dismissal of three of his claims-false arrest, conspiracy, and failure to intervene-as time-barred.

         A district court's dismissal on statute-of-limitations grounds constitutes a dismissal for failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) if the claim is "indisputably time-barred." Small v. Chao, 398 F.3d 894, 898 (7th Cir. 2005). We therefore review the district court's dismissal of Rosado's claims de novo, taking the factual allegations from Rosado's complaint as true and drawing all reasonable inferences in his favor. Vesely v. Armslist LLC, 762 F.3d 661, 664-65 (7th Cir. 2014).

         The statute of limitations on Rosado's claims is governed by Illinois's personal-injury statute of limitations, which is two years. 735 ILCS 5/13-202; Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 387 (2007). The statute of limitations for a false-arrest claim "begins to run at the time the claimant becomes detained pursuant to legal process, " meaning when the claimant is "bound over for trial." Wallace, 549 U.S. at 391, 397.

         Rosado was bound over for trial on September 8, 2012. He concedes that his two-year statute of limitations began to run at that point and therefore expired on September 8, 2014. Because he did not file his claim until April 28, 2015, he was out of time. But, Rosado attempts to salvage his time-barred claim by arguing that he is entitled to equitable estoppel or equitable tolling.

          A. Equitable Estoppel

         Rosado cannot satisfy the requirements for application of equitable estoppel. Equitable estoppel, which is a doctrine of federal law, "comes into play if the defendant takes active steps to prevent the plaintiff from suing in time, as by promising not to plead the statute of limitations." Shropshear v. Corp. Counsel of Chicago, 275 F.3d 593, 595 (7th Cir. 2001). Equitable estoppel presupposes "efforts by the defendant, above and beyond the wrongdoing upon which ...


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